Sunday, April 30, 2006
by Richard E. Noble
Hiroshima is a book written by a man by the name of John Hersey. Mr. Hersey was born in Tientsin, China in 1914. My guess is that John Hersey is no longer with us - if he is ... you have my apologies John.
Mr. Hersey has written a good number of books - and I have read none of them other than this one; sorry John but, as you must know/have known - there are so many books and so little time.
This book is a short book, only 152 pages. Yet it has taken me a very long time to complete. I think I have been working on it for over a year now. The problem is not that it has been boring. The problem is that every time I finish a paragraph, I set the book down in my lap and start meditating on what I have just read.
The book covers the lives of six “hibakusha” - A-bomb survivors. It covers their lives from the day the bomb hit them until …?
In this updated version of the book, Mr. Hersey returns to the lives of his main characters forty years after the original publication of the book and gives a follow-up.
I really don’t know what to say about this book. On the front cover it states - “Everyone able to read should read it.” I disagree. No one should read this book; or should I say - No one should ever had have to read this book. This book should never have been born. This event should never have happened. This is a true life horror story - depicting, vividly, fleshless faces and living, walking, talking human animals whose very eyeballs have been melted in their sockets and the liquid from their once eyes, running down their charred skulls. This book, if it were not true, would be considered too ridiculous to consider.
The characters lives are at the same time courageous, sad, useless, poignant, compelling, pitiable and insignificant. But what do you say?
What point did Mr. Hersey have in mind in writing such a book, I ask myself? What lesson is to be learned from reading such a book?
When I finished reading another controversial book years ago, Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, I asked myself the same question. I said to myself - if the lessons learned from reading that book could be condensed into one sentence what would it be? I think my conclusion satisfies both these books. I decided on the following: When you hear men talking of War as if it is a positive experience - beware.